ELECTION: South Asian candidates signs target of racially-motivated vandalism

SURREY — While many were tucking in to turkey and spending time with family this past long weekend, others were out in Surrey vandalizing newly erected election signs.

By Monday morning, images of vandalized Surrey First, One Surrey and Safe Surrey Coalition election signs were making the rounds on social media, with South Asian candidates being specifically targeted on each.

On Barinder Rasode’s One Surrey signs, her face was covered in black spray paint while Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey’s signs had the names and images of candidates Rina Gill and Justin Thind sprayed over in black. While Surrey First signs only feature Linda Hepner’s picture, Coun. Tom Gill’s name was still sprayed over in black.

Rasode said she knew of around 15 of her signs that were vandalized as of Monday afternoon and would be working to replace them soon with her volunteers.

"I think it’s unfortunate, we have some real issues at hand, we always have complaints from businesses around vandalism and graffiti and sometimes it is targeted this way," she said, noting it also brought out the good in others. "Overall, I think what it did prompt were a lot of calls from people who spoke out against it. There are more in the community that take that tone than the other tone."

Over at Surrey First, Hepner said they too had about 15 signs vandalized, primarily along King George Boulevard.

“It’s despicable. It does not speak to the Surrey I know and it flies in the face of everything we do around inclusivity and diversity and celebration and all of the events, and the kind of community we’re building," said Hepner. "Politics is not a pretty game, in any measure, but that is just beyond anything anyone would every consider. I don’t think it’s politically motivated because it attacks every single one. I think it’s completely race-motivated and that’s an ugly thing.

“It isn’t our community, it isn’t what we know. Look at our Fusion Festival and how we embrace each other’s cultures. It’s so not us.”

McCallum likewise said he too was disappointed with the apparent targeted acts, with most of his also appearing in Newton.

"I think it’s disgraceful that some idiots are vandalizing the signs. I would encourage everyone to leave them all alone, it’s a method to be recognized in a democratic election and there’s no place for this type of vandalism," he said.

As for Halloween this year, which falls on a Friday, McCallum said everyone will just have to be mindful of their signs the day after.

"I’ve been in four elections and Halloween is always a problem so we’ll just make sure we have a crew out the next day to check on the signs."



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